The Escape Artist, Season 1, Episode 2, “Episode 2”
Written by David Wolstencroft
Directed by Brian Welsh
Airs Sundays 9pm (ET) on PBS
“Have courage in your convictions. Don’t let them rattle you”
The first half of Masterpiece Mystery’s The Escape Artist was a jumbled but ultimately entertaining crime thriller with some intriguing twists and exceptional acting by leads David Tennant and Toby Kebbell. It was far from perfect though- there were one too many questions concerning Kebbell’s psychopath Liam Foyle. He was a terrifying character, expertly acted but his motivations were sketchy and it was hard to relate to his actions because of that.
“Episode 2” is a more tightly wound episode than the first part, which it’s a big improvement over. The episode’s early courtroom scenes are fascinating and well put together; so are the quiet periods. Watching Will (David Tennant) and his son adjust after Foyle is set free are some of the most deeply felt scenes of the show. They are also some of the most realistic. Sometimes bad people do go free and watching Will’s family struggle with this knowledge gives the show a sense of reality that’s lost towards the end of the episode.
The show grazes over Will’s grief. We catch glimpses of it: He’s frustrated with his mother-in-law, his son, the TV. He acts out. But when we see his anger, we finally feel some connection to him and the terrible thing that’s happened to his family. The same can be said about Foyle. This reviewer can’t help but feel the show missed some brilliant opportunities. Watching Foyle terrify then seduce his neighbor and watching Will struggle with his guilt and single parenthood, it’s painfully obvious how great the show could have been. It only needed a bit more focus. What exactly did The Escape Artist want to be, a slick legal thriller or an affecting legal drama? In the end it just stalls.
At the end of the episode, Will says he lost his anchor when his wife was killed and you believe him. Watching Foyle die and Will skate on his murder is very cool and clever, but it doesn’t feel satisfying. It’s ultimately cold. The Escape Artist had a lot going for it, but take away the amazing performances by Kebbell and Tennant and there wouldn’t be much to see.
“I need to ask you something”
“I’m on Facebook”
It says a lot about the show that I want to know more about Foyle and his history then Will’s.
“You wouldn’t blame a lion for being a lion, would you Will? Especially if you let him out”
“How do you live with yourself?”
“I forgive myself”
“Liam Foyle is dead and I rejoice in his passing, but you should not convict me in his murder”. How unbelievably epic is Will’s final statement in court? Tennant plays the scene perfectly with just the right amount sadness, anger, and swagger.